Chinook, Coho, Steelhead
by Michael Teague
Summer steelhead are streaming over Bonneville Dam in remarkable numbers. Over 11,000 were counted on August 19 alone, with 7,000 to 9,000 crossing most days. The total as of August 30 was nearly 82,000. About 25,000 have been counted at The Dalles Dam.
This puts a good number of steelhead in the upper river, destined to enter the Deschutes and other upriver tributaries. The mouth of the Deschutes has been fair but is improving. Drano Lake has started producing catches of steelhead and upriver brights on trolled spinners.
Steelheading has been good in the lower Columbia with anglers primarily targeting the mouths of tributaries, anchor fishing bright red Flatfish or smaller Kwikfish. Anglers have been doing well below the mouth of the Cowlitz with chinook mixed in the catches.
Steelheaders recorded good catches in the gorge this week with boat anglers taking nearly a keeper for every two boats, bank anglers a keeper for every three anglers. The run is pouring over Bonneville but slow to migrate over the Dalles Dam. Fall chinook numbers are beginning to climb but temperatures are too warm for productive fishing.
Buoy 10 is now open for chinook as well as coho although catches this early have been few. Traditionally, wobblers fish on anchor during the outgoing tide in 25 to 50 feet of water takes the Chinook. Use a 60-inch leader and 60-inch lead dropper, the jargon for which is '5 X 5.'
Boaters are finding much better chinook action at the Columbia River Buoy or a few miles southwest of that point than at Buoy 10, although these fish have been taken higher in the river. Chinook counts at Bonneville have been a thousand a day or better for a week.
Out of the lower Columbia, coho fishing has been very good offshore with most boats limiting. Hoochies have been top producers. Most anglers report about 50 percent hatchery coho but some days have produced six-to-one wild over finclipped. Hookups with sharks is common. As is the case with most Oregon ports, tuna fishing has been excellent in the warm ocean with double and triple hookups common.
All-depth halibut will re-open off the Columbia River August 24-26, closing thereafter unless sufficient poundage remains in the quota to allow another opener.
Although catch and keep sturgeon season has re-opened from Wauna Powerlines to Bonneville Dam, effort remained low but boaters in the gorge averaged a keeper for every four boats with high shaker action. Bank anglers averaged nearly a keeper for every five rods.
Chinook are entering Nehalem Bay now but haven't shown much inclination to bite. Trollers have taken a few at the jaws and a couple more at Wheeler but it is slow fishing. Crabbing is fair.
Recent rain caused a light rise in the water level of the Nestucca River and put steelhead on the bite. Anglers have done well with both bait and spinners. The effect will be short-lived, so get 'em while they're hot. A few chinook have started trickling in, but it'll be a month or so before this fishery is worth the trip. Three Rivers remains closed.
The annual angling event at Whiskey Creek Hatchery, set this year for September 15, is seeking volunteers to help. In its 15th year, this event allows mentally and physically challenged youngsters to catch trout stocked at the facility, including some very large fish, and is a thrill for the kids. Get in touch with Jerry Dove at 1-503-812-1572, 1-503-815-2555 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to lend a hand. No experience necessary.
Most of the rain that fell on the north coast was absorbed by the dry ground. The effect on the Wilson River was barely perceptible.
Over the past weekend, 62 to 64 degree water rewarded anglers with albacore only 15 miles out of Tillamook Bay. Tuna fishing remained red hot as recently as Monday this week. Coho fishing was spotty. Crabbing is slow in the bay.
Off the Pacific City beaches last Sunday, tuna were caught by dory fishers just six to eight miles offshore.
Chinook catches slowed in Siletz tidewater over the past week. Most of the fish taken have been in the mid-twenty-pound range.
Tuna were very close to the port of Depoe Bay over the weekend. This is likely to change (again) with northwest winds this week. Coho limits were taken over the weekend and the fish are larger with some pushing 15 pounds.
Crabbing is fair to good at Newport, poor at Waldport.
The ODFW coho landing estimates have not been updated since August 5, at which time it was about 53 percent. Catch rates have been good at times; one can only wonder how close we are to filling that quota.
Wave action in the ocean off the southwest coast is forecast to be mild but will be building into the weekend. The onshore wind, pushing strong and steady, will probably make a trip across the bar in recreational craft a no-go. Check conditions later this week, however.
During the periods of precipitation earlier this week, the southwest coast welcomed a couple of inches of cooling rain.
A series of mild tides minus will begin mornings over the weekend with the greatest exchange of water occurring on Tuesday next week.
Boats launching out of Florence over the weekend experienced fair to good coho results fishing 20 to 25 feet deep over about 160 feet of water. Early fall chinook are showing (and being caught) in the Siuslaw. It's shaping up to be a great season. Anglers had to struggle but still managed limits of scattered coho this week out of Winchester Bay. Fish have been taken over 230 to 350 feet of water from 25 to 65 feet deep.
Following hot mid-week fishing, action slowed out of Reedsport last weekend. Coho fishing was spotty out of Winchester Bay last Saturday with trollers encountering numerous sharks offshore. Fish are being taken at the 25-foot level over 250 to 300 feet of water on Sunday. Halibut action slowed over the weekend. Boats stayed close to the jaws on Monday this week due to dicey conditions, but experienced better coho action than did weekend anglers.
Fishing has been good for anglers launching out of Coos Bay for those able to locate schools of coho. Hoochie and herring have been effective.
Pete Peters of Gold Beach once again took top honors at the second annual Salmon B. Jammin' Salmon Fishing Derby, held on August 11 at Lex's Landing with a 34.2 pound chinook from the Rogue River. Peter's wife, Jill took the women's division with a 25.6-pound chromer. Over 200 anglers competed.
Overall, trollers have had it slow in the Rogue River estuary, but it's still the best bet for a bright chinook. An improvement in tidal exchange starting over the weekend may serve to energize this fishery. The upper Rogue, closed to chinook angling, has experienced some improvement in summer steelhead catch rates. Section 5 of the Rogue River is scheduled to be stocked with trout this week.
While salmon are coming into the port of Brookings in lower numbers than in years past, the percentage of chinook is increasing slightly. In addition, coho are large, averaging 13 pounds, which should equate to 16-pound fish by the end of August. Bottom fishing has remained excellent out of Brookings, with a wide variety of fish returning to port on anglers' boats. Tuna were 29 miles offshore last week and fishing was good. Salmon fishing has been fair.
On the inland scene, Willamette water temperatures have held steady at 72 degrees over the past week as 20 to 30 summer steelhead cross daily. Sturgeon fishing is very slow.
The Clackamas has been fair for steelheading from Rivermill Dam down to Dog Creek, but with good numbers and better fishing in the Columbia, most anglers are turning there attention to the Big River.
Despite strong numbers of steelhead in the Columbia, trollers at the mouth of the Sandy are taking only a few, although there have been flurries where both steelhead and chinook have been landed. There are a few summers around the mouth of Cedar Creek. Water in the Sandy is a combination of glacial grey and muddy from dam work upstream. Rain will get the fish on the move.
Steelheading has finally picked up on the North Santiam. Historically, the next five weeks will offer the best summer steelheading of the year.
Fishing in Detroit reservoir has been quite good for trout to 16 inches. Both trollers and bank anglers are taking good numbers to limits of fish. Faraday Lake and North Fork Reservoir are scheduled to be planted with hatchery trout.
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